CLEVELAND -- Defensively, the Cleveland Browns had just two reasons to celebrate in the 29-10 season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field last Sunday when linebacker Christian Kirksey and rookie defensive lineman Carl Nassib registered sacks on first-year quarterback Carson Wentz.
Browns head coach Hue Jackson wants more reasons for his players to celebrate on the field, and he wants the defense to lead the charge, starting with today’s game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“I wish I could have seen it,” Jackson said. “We need to get more dances then. We are not getting enough sacks so I can catch this. As long as guys are doing that part right, that does not bother me.
“I want our guys to have a little swagger to them. I do because you have to play that way all the time. I don’t want to be very cheapish about it, but at the same time, I want our guys to play with a little edge to them. If that is what makes us play good, more power to them. As long as the dances don’t turn into something I’ve never seen before, we will be okay.”
Nassib has proven to be an impactful player for the Browns’ defense after once being told at Penn State that he would never make it to the NFL.
The 6-foot-7, 272-pound Nassib entered the NFL Draft after a career year in 2015.
A consensus All-American in 2015, Nassib set a Penn State single-season record with 15.5 sacks last fall, and also, forced six fumbles, the most for any Nittany Lions player since Michael Haynes forced seven turnovers 13 years ago.
For his efforts in 2015, Nassib won the Lombardi (best linebacker/defensive lineman), Ted Hendricks (best defensive end) and Lott IMPACT awards. Also, Nassib was named CBS Sports’ National Defensive Player of the Year.
Despite playing just four snaps total against Michigan and Michigan State late in the season, Nassib led all Football Bowl Championship subdivision players in forced fumbles and sacks, becoming the first Penn State athlete to lead the country in multiple statistical categories in the same season in more than a decade.
“That is what he is,” Jackson said of Nassib’s tenacity. “He has been that way since I met him. He is a full-speed football player. He likes playing the game. That is the one thing about being a pro football player -- the consistency of doing things the same way all the time. Carl is that kind of guy.”
Second-year defensive tackle Danny Shelton is another player Jackson and the Browns are happy to have on their defensive front, as he is beginning to show glimpses of the kind of player they want to have in the trenches.
“I thought there were some things he did really well,” Jackson said. “At times, he got some knock back on the offensive line. That was a huge improvement. We just need him to do it consistently and do it every game. I think he is trending in that direction. We are looking to forward to watching him play this weekend.
“He is starting to be dominant up front. We know he is a big guy. At the same time, you have to use your athletic ability and use your hands and your legs to push people. He is starting to do that. He is starting to really come on.”